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Freight Market Update: August 15, 2023

Aerial top view of container cargo ships in motion over ocean

Ocean freight market update 

China–North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean freight rates increased again on both the China to US west coast and east coast lanes since late July. Contrary to the last reported period, this time the west coast saw a greater percentage increase than the east coast lanes. However, these increases are more likely attributable to more capacity reductions by carriers than to greater volumes, as Chinese goods shipments to the US were reported to have fallen 23% in July compared with a year earlier.
  • Market changes: Overall, the US ocean volumes are expected to continue modest growth in August thanks to consumer resiliency so far evidenced by various economic indicators that seem to curb inflation and reduce the risk of a recession. As a result, the optimism remains that further rate increases are likely in the short term. 


  • Rate changes: Similarly, rates on China to North European and Mediterranean lanes both saw increases in the last few weeks. In light of less economic optimism in Europe, these increases are a consequence of carrier’s widely implemented GRIs from August 1. Major carriers such as Maersk and MSC have also announced FAK increases effective in August. 
  • Market changes: After the initial two weeks ago, spot rates in certain Asia-North European lanes have already fallen back due to soft demand. MSC’s decision to blank its standalone Swan service from Asia at short notice further evidenced the slowing demand. Going forward, carriers are expected to focus more on margin than on market share, according to carrier executives. 

Air freight/Express market update

China–US and Europe

  • Rate changes: Air rates from most part of China to the US and Europe remained stable in the past few weeks, with those coming out of Shanghai seeing a slight increase. Globally, the current overcapacity and sagging demand are still pushing the rates down, with air indices tracking levels thirty to forty percent lower than a year ago in major Asia to Europe and US lines.  
  • Market changes: Global airfreight rates continue to come under significant downward pressure, leading some forwarders to expect a return to growth no sooner than early next year. However, adding to e-commerce and new product launches in the coming months, improved confidence in US economic conditions is rendering some market analysts more optimistic about the situation before this year-end.

Disclaimer: All information and views in this post are provided for reference purposes only and do not constitute any investment or purchase advice. The information quoted in this report is from public market documents and may be subject to change. Alibaba.com makes no warranties or guarantees for the accuracy or integrity of the information above.

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